December '18

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50 THE SHOP DECEMBER 2018 T he ability to paint real fire flames is a very handy skill, especially if you're painting race cars. They can be airbrushed relatively fast. There's not much of a paint edge, so they don't require many thick layers of clearcoat to level them out. Plus, the freedom of the design allows for a great deal of cre- ativity, and if you need to make a change midway through the process, it's pretty easy to do so. Real fire flames are often seen as a stand- alone featured graphic on a car with the whole front end on fire. But they can also come in handy as a way to separate a two- tone design or simply accent certain areas. Just a few licks of real fire can add some zing to a solid color paint job—running just above the rocker on a muscle car or in the inset coves on a Corvette, for example. And one of the best things about painting real fire? You don't have to be an experi- enced airbrusher to get good results. THE SHAPE OF FIRE Real fire flames are basically a series of fire shapes. The trick is to look at photos of actual fire and design a few different flame shapes. Then repeat them over and over in the various layers of colors. Practice airbrushing those shapes until you get them down. They won't come out exactly the same each time, but that's what you're aiming for. Another trick is to not overuse the sten- cils or templates. Draw out a shape with the airbrush, then use the template to give a hard edge along several sides of the shapes. The best real fire is a mixture of freehand airbrush and template edges. For example, the average flame shape has four sides. Sometimes I'll stencil three sides, sometimes only two sides. Then I'll leave a side open, with no airbrushed or hard edge at all. Mix it up when you're practicing. The only real rule for these flames? Start out big and loose, then with each layer, go tighter, sharper. Look closely at the photos—see how the red layer is almost blurry? And try not to aim the airbrush 50 THE SHOP DECEMBER 2018 Feel e Heat Real fire flames are a great choice for race car graphics. By JoAnn Bortles Real fire flames are often seen as a standalone featured graphic, but they can also come in handy as a way to separate a two-tone design or simply accent certain areas.

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